Youth on display for UNC, MSU

"They're special players," Merchant said. "Tori is a high-IQ kid that can shoot 3s, pull up, pass it, drive it. She's got a pretty complete game. And Aerial and Brandais are both really athletic kids that I think have really grown and matured in the department of understanding and reading defenses better. They were kind of all-or-nothing kids sometimes early in the season."

In the case of Powers, her explosiveness and versatility adds an element otherwise missing for the Spartans, tools she showed off Sunday in everything from attacking the glass to spotting up for 3-pointers to bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense on occasion. A game against Hampton, among the NCAA leaders in turnovers forced, could have been trouble. And with a travel and a charge to her name before the game was even three minutes old, she looked a little overeager. After all, Powers scored 24 points against Dayton in November in her third college game but also committed nine turnovers in that game -- then seven more against Temple, six in a loss against IPFW, nine at Florida State and so on.

"Even in the preseason, I was so anxious to play," Powers said "That first game back, I was so anxious and I was all over the place and I was hyper. The game didn't come to me as easy because I was so excited, I had to calm down and play within myself. That's what I tried to do from the beginning of the season until now."

It worked Sunday on a big stage, the early miscues no more than an afterthought by the time she finished dismantling Hampton.

As a redshirt freshman, she is one of the elder stateswomen of this season's rookies, but she didn't play at all last season because of a torn Achilles tendon and missed the playoffs in high school because of an ankle injury as a senior. In other words, this was her first true postseason, win-or-go-home game since 2011, her junior year in high school.

"My mindset was come back bigger, better and stronger and actually focus on getting better with whatever I wasn't good at before I got hurt," Powers said. "So I just used it as a motivational thing, not as something to discourage me and worry about myself. I just motivated myself to get in the weight room and do things I wasn't good at before."

The result is one of the best rookies in college basketball, which is what you expect to find in Chapel Hill.

There is plenty of history in Carmichael. Tuesday it hosts the future.

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